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Tyga Protest, New York TImes reporter talk, SPEC does the 90s Credit: Carolyn Lim , Carolyn Lim

The protests against Tyga are finally being brought out to the open.

Monday afternoon, the protest group We Can Do Better held a demonstration on Locust Walk in front of the Button. The group held up its signature displays of Tyga’s lyrics and attempted to get passers-by to sign their petition that asks the Social Planning and Events Committee to rethink their artist selection process.

The demonstration, active from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., gained over 250 signatures on its petition and sparked buzz among more than a few students.

Monday’s demonstration was heralded by College senior Emily Goshey, leader of We Can Do Better, whose guest column in The Daily Pennsylvanian two weeks ago made the debates more visible.
In her column, she argued that Tyga’s lyrics were misogynistic and that it reflected poorly on Penn. We Can Do Better was formed around this cause.

Tyga, who has also been booked to perform at Harvard, is facing similar criticisms there. In fact, Harvard administration recommended last week that the student College Events Board and Concert Commission reconsider their booking.

While many students were fully supportive of the group’s protest today in front of Van Pelt, some brought up points that led to a heated discussion.

“Why is everyone protesting Tyga instead of Girl Talk when they feature many of the same lyrics? Because he’s black,” Nursing senior Sandra Hyams said at the demonstration.

“We both agree that we all listen to it on the radio, dance to it and pay for it. This is a feature of every artist, and if you’re going to protest him, you can protest anyone.”

Wharton and College senior Priyanka Anand, a member of We Can Do Better, said about their protest, “I don’t think anyone disagrees that it’s offensive. I think it’s just a question of how much they care about it.”

“As long as we get people to think about it, that’s great … And the Penn community has been really responsive to starting up the conversation,” said College sophomore Renata Giarola.

College freshman Gabby Abramowitz was one of the petition signers on Monday. In explaining her reasons for signing, she said, “I think if SPEC’s spending the same amount of money that they’ve been spending in previous years, there’s a level of caliber expected of the artists and I think that they really weren’t listening to what the student body wants.”

The event on Monday was originally planned to be a town hall coordinated by both SPEC and We Can Do Better, but plans fell through when space couldn’t be secured. Moving forward past Fling, Anand expects a forum similar to the town hall event for students to voice their concerns about artist selection to SPEC.

The group met with SPEC last week to discuss their concerns with artist selection. “SPEC has been wonderful,” said Goshey. “They try really hard to give us what we want, and it’s just that the specific point of view that the lyrics matter hasn’t been represented in their surveys. But they’ve said they’d be willing to work that into their surveys.”

SPEC commented on the positive dialogue between the groups.

In an email, College senior and SPEC President Josh Oppenheimer wrote, “Last week, we met with representatives of the We Can Do Better group, and had an extremely productive conversation with them … SPEC is dedicated to working with this group and others in brainstorming ways to perfect the process of how we choose artists for all of our events. They brought the idea of holding some sort of public forum to help us brainstorm, and we support that idea.”

This article has been updated to reflect the fact that Josh Oppenheimer is SPEC President, not SPEC Chair.

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